As communities across Northeast Ohio desperately try to stop the heroin crisis, a Cleveland company is turning to technology to help, believing smart phones will save lives.
It's called Ascent, and it's turning cell phones into instant lifelines when seconds count.
"There were times where I wanted to talk to somebody, or I felt like I was going to use, and there was nobody around to talk to," said Chris Hall, a recovery coach for Ascent, a new app created here in NE Ohio, that fills the gap in continuing care for addicts.
Hall is a former addict.
"I was hooked on Heroin and the pills for about seven years," said Hall.
The 54-year old has been clean for almost eight years, and now makes sure no call for help goes unanswered.
"I will sit on the phone with you for as long as it takes," said Hall.
Recovery: There's an app for that
Brian Bailys, who founded Ascent, created the app after his own experience in treatment for mental health and substance abuse.
"I was in the room with seven other people, six of those seven people relapsed within 90 days, so I thought there had to be a better way," said Bailys.
The app contains a beacon button that immediately connects people to a recovery coach on the phone or via text.
"We're going to talk them out of using, that's what we're there for," said Hall. "If it's two in the morning you can call, we're going to talk to you 24/7/365.”
Ascent also allows users to compile a list of motivations to keep them on track. But more importantly, it keeps users busy.
"Boredom is an enemy of sobriety," said Hall.
All of it together is what Hall said can really turn the tide when it comes to the Heroin epidemic.
"We believe that it's really going to really help stop the recidivism of people using over and over again and breaking that cycle," said Hall.
Those in need to get app
Ascent is partnering with the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County to get the app to 600 people in Cuyahoga County in the next several months.
The Cleveland Foundation and the Board are footing the bill for recovering addicts to get a phone with the app, which normally costs $35, and to cover data costs.
"The bulk of the people we're working with don't have $3 let alone $35," said Bailys.
Ascent is currently pushing Medicaid in Ohio to pay for the app. Right now, it only reimburses recovering addicts for peer support, not for tele-peer resources like Ascent.
Special offer: Ascent solution is free (through October) for the first 100 Cuyahoga and Lake County residents that sign up. Click here!